The Air Force Invasion
Posted: 20 September 2008 02:08 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Reported by Loran Unger.

The first time I heard of Hoherbogen (I still have a hard time calling it Eckstein) was in late 1967 when I was stationed with the 6915th Security Group in Hof, Germany. One of the guys I worked with was Phil Meixner, a freethinking, independently minded iconoclast. Phil had spent the summer TDY to Hoherbogen and had bought an Alfa Romeo sports car with his TDY money.

Just about the last long break of the year, he asked me if I wanted to go down to Rimbach with him for a visit. Not having anything else to do over break, I said, “Sure.” When we got to Rimbach, he just kept going up the 19-percent grade.

The German AF had plowed the road to their site, but that didn’t help us because our destination was the Schönblick Gasthaus. This entailed about a half mile walk through waist deep (I’m not kidding) snow. It was about seven in the evening and we had been in the dark (in more ways than one) for several hours. Of course the Schönblick was closed for the winter, but Phil banged on the door and the landlady, Frau Wartner, let us in. She was a kindly soul and fed us.

The Schönblick had no electricity or running water and was heated by one pot-bellied stove. Phil and Frau Wartner spent the evening chatting away merrily in German. My knowledge of German was rudimentary at best and my knowledge of Bayerisch non-existent, so my contribution to the conversation was an occasional “Noch ein Bier, bitte.”

Even though the Schönblick was closed, Frau Wartner put us up for the night. That wasn’t my introduction to German featherbeds, but I was sure thankful she had some that night. Since they didn’t have any running water, the next morning Phil and I brushed our teeth in the spring about halfway down the 19-percent grade. Since the water was about two degrees above freezing, we didn’t take a spit bath in it.

In the summer of 1967, the AF operation on Hoherbogen had been under the 6910th Security Group in Darmstadt, but in 1968 it fell under the 6915th Security Group in Hof. Towards spring, when I found out my good friend John Kamensky was to be in charge from Hof, I lobbied intensely to be sent TDY. My prayers were answered, so in May we went.

There were five of us from Hof and two from Darmstadt. Since I had the lofty rank of SSgt (E-5), I got to be NCOIC. Air Force ops worked days and swings, with two guys per shift and two guys on break. Just think, no more midzzzzzz, little military stuff, TDY money, in the heart of the Bavarian Woods — pretty darned close to paradise.

As I recall, the Army strung an electric line from the generator to the Schönblick, as well as a field telephone line so we could order food from Frau Wartner. In August, the Russians invaded and the Army expanded their operations several-fold. By fall the powers that be decided to make the operation a permanent thing and a Quonset hut type of thing was put up not too far away.

This was heated by a couple of pot-bellied stoves. The restroom facilities were modernized and an inside-the-building electric space-age toilet with a built-in incinerator to get rid of solid waste was installed. The good part of this was that one no longer froze his nether regions going to the bathroom in winter. The mechanical operation of this device caused a certain amount of fear in those who were over-generously endowed, but for the rest of us it was a leap forward into the twentieth century. However, the venting was less than adequate.

I don’t know how to describe the odor, but it was overpowering. Fortunately for the Air Force, the facilities were on the Army end of the building. By the time I left in January 1970, my TDY had stretched to almost two years.

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6913th Security Squadron USAF
Rimbach, West Germany
1974-1975

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